“As feline collaborators go, you couldn’t ask for better than Sneaky Pie Brown.”—The New York Times Book Review Autumn is in the air in the Blue Ridge Mountain community of Crozet, Virginia—and all the traditions of the changing seasons are under way.
She was born in Prague in 1956 and her mother nurtured her early sporting talent: she won the national tennis championships at 15.
But her blossoming career came under threat when the communist-controlled Czechoslovakian Sports Federation feared that she was becoming too Westernised and dictated she should make tennis a secondary issue to schooling.
The most high-profile of these was with Judy Nelson, a former Texan beauty queen who left her husband of 17 years to be Martina’s partner and assistant.
They had a seven-year relationship (and exchanged rings in a commitment ceremony in Australia) but, as Judy tells it, Martina suddenly left her in 1991.
Days afterwards she was signing papers at New York’s immigration department.
Later that year it was her sexuality that she was coming to terms with. I may alienate some fans but I am not going to deny my true nature.” When she outed herself in 1981, however, she could not have anticipated quite how adversely it would affect her public image. Lucrative sponsors were frightened away, so much so that when she won her ninth Wimbledon she wore a dress she had designed herself because no sports clothing firm would touch her. Her tennis rival was the wholesome blonde Chris Evert and Martina was cast as her polar opposite.But if she stood up for her sexuality (on one occasion throwing herself into the Wimbledon crowd to hug her then girlfriend following victory in 1990) her relationships have proved more up and down than her fiercest on-court rivalries.There was the time in 1981 when she attempted to break up with her third serious girlfriend, author Rita Mae Brown, and Rita pulled a gun on her as she sped off in her BMW.“To this day it really baffles me why it is people’s business to judge you.” It was many years before the tide of public opinion turned in her favour.“It took a while but I got there,” is all she will say about that time.Many of those challenges she has sought out but whatever problems have stood in her way Martina has always tackled them head on and usually wrestled them into submission.